The image of the 18-year old girl raped by the brothers, one of them a member of the ruling party in power and himself a Member of the Legislative Assembly in the state of Uttar Pradesh and the father who was beaten to death because he protested on behalf of the daughter -- this is one of the many images with which we must remember the BJP rule of India. The nightmarish image that will stay with me personally for a long time is the gruesome rape and murder of the 8-year old girl-child in the Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir because she belonged to the Muslim Bakarwal community and the community had to be taught a lesson -- this is not merely depravity; we need to coin a new word to describe the brutality of the men who by the way did it in a temple and perhaps are also well-meaning Hindus. This seems to be a page from the atrocities committed during India's partition in 1947.
I am sure that neither the men nor their families nor most members of their ethnic group still see anything fundamentally wrong in what has been done to this 8-year old girl which is so terrible and so painful that I do not even want to dwell on it for the purposes of the article. The political parties including the opposition are as usual busy with their double standards in condemning the rape and murder on one hand and endorsing the protests of the community that the rapist came from on other hand keeping electoral gains in mind. The first question that comes to one's mind: could not those men for once imagine their own mothers, wives, sisters or daughters in a similar situation? It is not hard to see that this kind of violence is done by self-hating men who have issues with accepting their bodies and have not come to terms with their own sexuality just as we see in the novels of Marquis de Sade.
These are not crimes as in crimes done by people with a devious intent to injure someone; these are crimes against humanity and the cold-blooded brutality of the Nazis comes to mind. An 8-month old baby was raped in Delhi in January 2018. I told my friends that we should declare a national day of mourning and introspection only to examine whether as a nation we should still consider ourselves as part of the human species or not. This kind of medieval barbarity is depicted in the movies of the Japanese film maker Kenji Mizoguchi and the answer to the violence came from Buddhist monks and men and men who believed that human decency is still possible in spite of the unforgivable violence.
The Sufis across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia and the adherents of the Bhakti movement similar to the Franciscans of Mediterranean Europe perhaps played a role in alleviating the animal instinct of the powerful. Unfortunately we don't have these people in the modern world. We only have the naked violence; we have the state that is a part of the violence and generously contributes to it; we have the pretentious bourgeoisie whose wealth is at the heart of these crimes; we have self-interested activists desperate for brownie points in the media and we have communalists who are more interested in fighting for group interests rather than for humanity.
In the 90s itself when I began to do some creative writing, I intuitively knew that violence against children especially involving their bodies will define the modern world more than any other single feature. What is strange or bizarre is that there are people who are protesting against the arrest of the rapists and murderers. That's what makes this violence a crime against humanity; the fact there are people who don't think that this is wrong and a violation of whatever it means to be human.
Everybody is talking about the rape and murder from the perspective of the parties involved as if it were a topic for public discussion. What about the body of that 8-year old that went through the ordeal of being raped and murdered. To even try find an analogy for that suffering body is to defy the imagination. What is the guilt of the child except that she happened to be born in the Muslim Bakarwal community? Years ago I remember a man telling, "But, then, what is the death of one child in politics?" That is the whole point: we can only measure ourselves as members of a social order by how we are able to take care of that one child; how we are able to preserve the well-being of that one child. If we are able to have a perfect society in exchange for a child whose body's integrity needs to be violated, should we agree to the making of such a utopia? Should we as a nation, as a society and as people belonging to the human race agree to see this violence against a child and remain quiet about it?
I am not the first one to be asking these questions. In Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, the cynical though highly intelligent Ivan provocatively asks his sweet brother: "Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last. Imagine that you are doing this but that it is essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature...in order to found that edifice on its unavenged tears. Would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me. Tell the truth." The saintly Alyosha refuses to consent to that kind of a happy and peaceful society because that "one tiny creature" is more important than the pseudo-utopia in which we could live without conflicts or contradictions. We can do without a perfect world. What we cannot accept is an order where a child is tortured to death only because someone thinks that the "unavenged tears" of that child do not matter when it comes to achieving larger goals.
Though I know that she was killed because she was vulnerable I don't want to think of her as a Muslim girl belonging to a certain community. I want to see her as that "one tiny creature" who will test whether we have a conscience at all as a nation and as a people. We need to ensure that those men who perpetrated the violence are severely punished. More importantly we need to ensure that every well-meaning person irrespective of religion, race, caste or community across the length and breadth of India, should come out and protest against the suffering that this girl has been put through and put an end to the cruel, despotic rule of the BJP. A government that is deadlier than the anaconda in the stranglehold that it has on the people of India and less human than the hungry lions of the Roman circuses should simply be booted out of power and punished for its inability to stop these crimes against humanity.